With social media pervading every aspect of our lives, the Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) has recently put its industry- first, draft Social Media Guidelines up for public consultation.

The guidelines are expected to play an important role in helping all manufacturers of consumer healthcare products manage social media responsibly to ensure consumers are able to access accurate and appropriate information about non-prescription medicines.

“Social media has infiltrated every aspect of life, and the healthcare sector is no exception,” said ASMI Marketing & Business Development Director, Filomena Maiese.

“Here in Australia, social media and online health information have become increasingly important in patient care and consumer decision-making, with a quarter of Australians regularly seeking health information online.

“To date, the consumer healthcare industry has been quite cautious in engaging with social media, mainly due to the highly complex regulated environment of health communication, and the fact that this is still an evolving channel,” Ms Maiese said.

According to ASMI, the new SoME guidelines are designed to serve as a broad industry guide only, and do not replace or alter an organisation’s obligations under any relevant code of conduct, regulation or legislation.

As highlighted in an earlier VIVA! blog regarding healthcare and social media, SoME commentators state the industry cannot afford not to be part of the SoME conversation, with various platforms, including Twitter, Instagram and Facebook serving as hugely practical and popular business tools.

At VIVA!, we are genuinely committed to educating our clientele about why and how to embrace SoME in order to run highly effective, integrated communication campaigns.

“VIVA! pioneered Digipharma – Australia’s first digital seminar dedicated to the pharmaceutical industry – in order to educate the pharmaceutical industry about the importance of embracing, rather than fearing, digital media,” said VIVA! Principal, Kirsten Bruce.

The ASMI draft guidelines give a clear definition of what constitutes social media and breaks that down even further into categories of owned, paid and earned media. It then goes further to summarise some of the issues which may arise for an organisation, including false or misleading claims, defamation and managing content & social media campaigns.

Last year the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) asked for comments about its own draft guidelines on SoME for health care professionals. However the organisation attracted criticism from some doctors, warning their proposed policy was ‘restrictive’ and would inhibit doctors from accessing helpful new technologies.

To comment on ASMI’s draft Social Media Guide, for which the date of release is yet to be set, provide your comments to the organisation by Friday, October 25, 2013.